Dog Adoption: Positive Reinforcement

dog treat

You will want to prepare your home before your adopted dog arrives and should consider crate training for the first few months too. You will want the dog’s overall behavior to be good to and training for that should start immediately.

You should practice positive reinforcement when training your adopted dog and that begins the moment he or she arrives at your home.


For positive reinforcement, reward your dog the moment he or she does something good.

The reward should be a small food treat. Perhaps a Milk-Bone®. Don’t reward the dog with something that will occupy him or her for a long time. You want them to be good again right away for the chance at another reward.

Mix up the treats so the dog doesn’t become bored with the same food over and over and be sure to say something positive in accompaniment with the treat. Ideas would be “Good dog!”, “Good job!” or “Yes!”.

The timing is important here because you want the dog to correlate the treat with the most recent activity. This means the moment the dog listens to your command you should give the treat before the dog does anything else.

You should also keep the commands very simple. This means you shouldn’t use long sentences or complicated words for commands for your dog. Here are some good words to use for commands:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Heel
  • Etc.

Be consistent. You want the same command to mean the same thing for everyone in your home. The more repetition and consistency the sooner the dog will understand what it means.

The rewards should decrease over time. First, reward good behavior about 80% of the time then down to 50% then 25% until a reward becomes a much more rate treat only 10% of the time. The dog should soon learn to act good whether there is a treat involved or not.

This should be the goal for you and your relationship with your new adopted dog. Training through positive reinforcement will build a strong bond that will last several years and the lifetime of your dog.